It was designed to help people in China get around government censorship but has a global user base. It’s one of the most popular censorship circumvention tools available at present.
Ultrasurf also helps internet users in non-censoring countries to encrypt their communications and protect their IP address from the websites visited; it is recommended in particular for use at wireless hotspots and public WiFi networks.
Ok, let’s go down to what we have today. By the end of this review, you would have learned all about UltraSurf.
I will keep it simple but concise and straight to the point. You will learn about its product and services offered.
Below is the breakdown of what I would be covering:
- About the Company (Overview)
- Devices you can use Ultrasurf on
- Speed and Performance
- Ultrasurf for chrome
- Ultrasurf for firefox
- Ultrasurf for firestick
- Price (Free or Paid version)
- Privacy and Security
- Pros and Cons
1. About the Company (Overview)
Founded in 2001 by a small group of Silicon Valley engineers, it was built for the sole purpose of creating the world’s best anti-censorship software.
The tool was first designed to aid residents in China where online activities are largely restricted and Internet users are highly monitored.
After a decade of developing its technology, Ultrasurf has created a resilient tool that’s able to adapt to every Internet censorship threat.
With millions of users from 180 countries today, it’s disappointing to see that it doesn’t have an impressive feature set; it lacks the basics such as a kill switch and leak protection. Its customer support is insufficient, just like its customer protection policies.
With a few features and clear gaps in privacy and logging policies, we don’t recommend this VPN.
If you want to collaborate with a top-notch VPN provider that will protect the security and privacy of your Internet connection, we advise you to look at some of the other VPN providers we have reviewed on our website.
2. Devices you can use Ultrasurf on
Ultrasurf supports the following platforms:
Apps are a bit limited with Ultrasurf, as there are only options for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android users.
The app for Windows is a small executable file that needs no installation.
The good news is that you can put it on a thumb drive and deploy it on the go.
Many people use this method to protect themselves at internet cafes and on public wifi.
The Android app is also easy to use, and can be found on the Google Play Store by searching for “Ultrasurf VPN.”
Extensions are an important part of using this VPN. Browsers can sometimes cause serious leaks despite whatever privacy service a user has employed.
The most notable of these is the WebRTC leak which is known to be an issue with Google Chrome. Even when using a very strong VPN, WebRTC can cause your identity to leak.
Since Ultrasurf uses the Incognito Mode of Google Chrome as its vehicle, it is important to install a WebRTC blocker/disabler and allow it to run in Incognito Mode.
3. Speed and Performance
When it comes to speed, UltraSurf is no slouch.
Overall, the service performed well in my speed tests, and the results were as indicated below.
Note: When conducting the speed tests, I was using a 145 Mbps internet connection.
|Speed before using Ultrasurf||18 ms||145.37 Mbps||98.21 Mbps|
|Speed when connected to UltraSurf||248 ms||112.97 Mbps (-22.29%)||70.36 Mbps (-28.36%)|
For a free VPN, I would take a 22% speed reduction any day.
That said, its small server network continues to be an Achilles’ heel.
I saw one user complain that the speeds kept on changing depending on server loads. UltraSurf notes that too and they cite traffic from Iran as the reason.
So I guess between 6-9 pm (Iranian local time) the speeds can be a little bit unsteady. As for me, I didn’t have any speed issues with the VPN.
4. Ultrasurf for chrome
First, you need to be sure that your default browser is set to Google Chrome. Once you’ve done that, you can proceed with the following steps:
- Open Chrome
- Go to “Settings”
- Select “Advanced Settings”
- Locate “Network”
- Click “Change proxy settings”
- Go to “Connections”
- Open “LAN settings”
- Uncheck “Automatically detect settings”
- Check “Use a proxy server for your LAN”
- Type in the Ultrasurf proxy server address and port
- Click “Ok” then “Apply”
Notes on Installing Ultrasurf
It still works best with Internet Explorer. There are plenty of online user reports mentioning bugs when trying to use Ultrasurf with another browser, especially Chrome.
However, you probably won’t have to wait too long for hotfixes and updates even if you use Ultrasurf with a different browser.
You may also be interested in knowing that this VPN has launched its own VPN extension for Chrome users.
You can easily find it in the Chrome web store and add it to your extensions list. It has a great rating and does basically the same thing as the parent app.
However, people will be able to see that you have it installed on your browser. It defeats the purpose of running incognito, if that’s what you were going for.
5. Ultrasurf for firefox
- Open your Firefox browser
- Go to “Tools”
- Click on “Options”
- Select “Network”
- Click “Advanced”
- Click “Settings”
- Check the “Manual proxy configuration” box
- Type “127.0.0.1” or another proxy you want to use
- For the port type “9666”
6. Ultrasurf for firestick
Normally, you would just be able to navigate to the Firestick browser and choose a VPN download, but that’s not available here.
Instead, you’ll need to configure a tool called the Firestick Downloader before you can get Ultrasurf working.
This isn’t too complex and having Downloader could be useful for other purposes, so it’s a good idea in any case.
Here’s how to install Ultrasurf VPN on Firestick:
- Load up your Firestick and open the main menu. Now click on the search feature, and search for “Downloader.”
- Once you’ve found the Downloader tool, choose the “Get” option, and the Downloader app will be added to your Firestick.
- Now, you’ll need to open the Downloader as you would with any Firestick app. This gives you the opportunity to download third-party applications that aren’t available via the Amazon Store.
- The next step is to download the Ultrasurf APK. To do so, you’ll need to type in the link “https://apkpure.com/ultrasurf-beta-unlimited-free-vpn-proxy/us.ultrasurf.mobile.ultrasurf”
- When you’ve typed the link into the address field, the Firestick web browser will load up. You should be taken to an APK download site for Ultrasurf.
- Use the browser to click the Download button on this page. Downloader should detect the file and download it automatically to your Firestick.
- When the Ultrasurf APK has been download, its installation will begin immediately. Follow the prompts, and the Proxy will be added to your Firestick tools.
- Ultrasurf should now be available, just like any other app on your device, so go ahead and open it. When you connect, your streaming will be encrypted.
7. Price (Free or Paid version)
Ultrasurf is a free proxy with a limited functionality. It allows you to change your IP address and access some websites that might be censored or blocked in your region.
It offers US-based IPs, so the choice isn’t quite as impressive as you’d expect. It is said to be popular in China, Iran, and Syria, but you are not advised to use it if you suspect you might be targeted by surveillance agencies.
Even though you won’t be submitting your payment or other personal information because there is no registration or payment process involved, Ultrasurf keeps logs of your activity and discloses it to the U.S. authorities (see Privacy and Security).
There is no paid plan on offer.
8. Privacy and Security
I do not appreciate how Ultrasurf states it uses encryption, but never explains the specs. It’s a closed source, proprietary project, so no community audits can confirm its claims.
The provider keeps web server logs your IP, the links you click within their site, date and time of your visit, the websites you visit from their web page, and some of your “personal information,” which the provider will disclose to authorities should a need arise.
It’s a U.S.-based provider, so data retention laws and gag orders combined with the poorly disclosed logging and security tech specs make it a dubious proposition.
My research also yielded a 6-year old audit of Ultrasurf by a Tor investigator. It’s long outdated but still worth reading.
What clicked with me is that, six years later, Ultrasurf still does not provide any information on the technical specs used in its solution and still sticks to its logging practice and cooperation with spy agencies.
It’s just geared toward inexperienced users who don’t ask the right questions.
In addition, Ultrasurf is known for its willingness to cooperate with the U.S. government.
Ironically, it also filters your content, engaging in censorship, which is exactly what it claims to fight.
That’s too much cringe-worthy hypocrisy for a privacy and censorship circumvention tool if you ask me.
UltraSurf is not your traditional VPN.
It’s more of a proxy service than a VPN.
Of all the services I’ve reviewed, it offers the weakest security and privacy features.
The provider uses HTTPS encryption on all their server connections.
Other than that, they do not reveal much else.
There is no mention of various tunneling protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec anywhere.
10. Pros and Cons
- Free for PC and Android devices.
- Totally free
- Unlimited bandwidth for premium users
- Hide your IP address
- Poor speed
- Not great for privacy protection
- Cooperates with spy agencies
- Does not disclose its tech specs
- Promises anonymity, which is misleading at best, and false at worst
- No Netflix
- No support for Mac, iOS, or Linux
Ultrasurf’s free proxy is easy-to-use but yields very little benefits. You can access some US streaming services that aren’t stringent on proxy users.
But you won’t be file-sharing or engaging in any conversations or research that could get you in trouble with three-letter agencies or big corporations.
Today, the VPN market is saturated. You can find affordable solutions with good privacy and security specs that don’t compromise your security. Unfortunately, UltraSurf is not one of them.
This brings us to the end of the UltraSurf review. I hope you enjoyed reading it….
…. It’s your turn to give me feedback…
Do you have an account with UltraSurf? If not, are you going to sign up?
Do you think UltraSurf is the best VPN Service? Or
……maybe you have a question.
Either way, let me know in the comment section right away.
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